Archive:

Tags

134 Executive Drive, Lafayette, IN 47905, 765-448-6489

765-448-6489

Posts for tag: nervous system

By Dr. Doug Williams
April 16, 2019

Last week, we talked about three ways to nourish the nervous system:

  1. Physical Activation
  2. Mental Activation
  3. Reducing Mechanical Distortion

This week, we are going to concentrate specifically on Physical Activation.

Physically Activating the Nervous System is Progressive

One of the most amazing things about the nervous system, and our body in general, is that if it is de-conditioned, it doesn’t take much stimulus to effect a change! That’s good news if yours has been down for awhile, whether from injury or life just getting in the way.

IF YOU HAVEN’T BE DOING MUCH, ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS SOMETHING!


Go out and take a walk, go an extra lap at the grocery store, or throw the ball for the dog at the park. It will start to turn things on in your brain. As you become more comfortable with activity itself, progress to incorporate more specific stimulus.

The Nerve System Likes Timing

One of the major players in the central nerve system (brain and spinal cord) is the cerebellum. Originally, the cerebellum was thought to only modify movement. As research progressed, its role in timing was discovered: the cerebellum is what allows you to “keep time or a beat” catch a ball or dance effectively.

What has come to the forefront recently is the role the cerebellum plays in organizing thought, memory, and learning. In some cases, it has been dubbed a Supervised Learning Machine. The implications of this are huge. It is possible that activating the cerebellum (which is best done by physical activity) may help such diverse conditions as ADHD and Dementia.

How do you involve the cerebellum in exercise?

  • Playing Catch
  • Bouncing a Ball
  • Skipping and Hopping, 
  • Balancing on one foot
  • Marching in place
  • Aiming (throwing darts, playing pool, golf) 
  • Skipping rope
  • Walking/running
  • Tennis / pickle-ball / ping-pong

The Nerve System Likes Variety!

The fact that our nervous systems really are “learning machines” is both good and bad. You really don’t want to have to re-learn how to walk everyday – that would really slow life down! On the other hand, when we have really grooved a pattern or motion, it loses its ability to stimulate and activate our nerve system effectively and our return on investment for the time we spend exercising is diminished.

There are several ways to combat this:

  1. Periodization
  2. Progression

Periodization is a concept found in athletics. Rather than training the same way year-round, you cycle your training in order to keep your system from growing stagnant. There is a nice article on this by the American Council on Exercise.

Progression is pretty much what you would think: going from easy to hard, or simple to complex. It is applied for the same reason: to keep your system fresh and capable of growing!

Let’s look at an example of applying these two concepts to a nervous system exercise like walking: You start out in March with a walking program since you haven’t really done much over the winter. Walking is good because it is easy to progress, rhythmic, and can be done just about anywhere.

March / April: You start walking around your neighborhood for 20 minutes every other evening 3-5 times per week at an easy pace.

May /June: The weather is getting nicer so you increase your walking to 30 minutes and try to hit 6 days per week still at a moderate pace.

July / August: It is starting to get hot and you are getting a little tired of the routine, so you switch to walking every other day (3 days per week) for 30 minutes, but now you really push the pace by alternating a really fast pace, while passing three houses, followed by a moderate pace for three houses.

September / October: It is starting to cool off and the trees are beautiful. You keep the 3x/week interval sessions you did during the summer, but you add in an hour-long walk on weekends at Happy Hollow Park (hills!) at a moderate pace.

November / December: You plan on doing a 5K Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving, so you sign up and talk your spouse or a friend into doing it with you. You know you are going to eat more in December, so you make a pact with your spouse or friend that you will walk six days a week through December for at least 20 minutes and keep doing Happy Hollow on weekends up until Christmas.

January / February: It is cold and icy outside, but the mall is empty, so you try to hit the mall 3x/week for 30 minutes and get back to the interval training (walk fast past Cinnabon, moderate pace past GNC).

GO YOU!


You just completed a year of stimulating your nervous system! Throw in other things like golf, Frisbee, shooting a basketball, or playing catch with the kids/grandkids, and you are well on your way to activating the nervous system year-round.

Dr. Sue Activating Her Nervous System and Living The Final Four Dream!

There are infinite ways to physically activate your nervous system. The most important thing is to just go ahead and get out and do it! Don’t wait, head out the door after reading this blog post, even for just 5 minutes, you won’t be sorry!

Next week, we will talk about the value of mentally activating your nervous system and some practical ways to incorporate it into your daily life.

Yours in Health,

Care Chiropractic
Lafayette, Indiana

By Dr. Doug Williams
February 08, 2017
Category: Frailty
Tags: exercise   frailty   nervous system  
 
The Nervous System Lies at the Hub of Frailty

We have been working through a series on Frailty, essentially what happens to our bodies as we age. This material is important for several reasons, not the least of which is, because it is going to affect all of us, if we live long enough, and knowing what is coming can be comforting on some level.

However, more than that, I believe that understanding how we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" allows us to not only appreciate what we have been given in our bodies, but also inspires us to take the best care possible of them.

With that in mind, we have been going over what happens to us over time, but also how to positively impact it. The Nervous System literally and figuratively lies at the center of our life and, ultimately, death.

Components of the Nervous System
 
The Nervous System is structurally broken down into two parts:
  1. Central Nervous System, which is composed of the brain, spinal cord and nerve roots
  2. Peripheral Nervous System, which is composed of the nerves once they leave the spinal cord
The Nervous System is functionally composed of about a million different parts! Okay, maybe not a million, but way more than I am prepared to cover in this material.
 
The most useful model for the functional aspect of the Nervous System is to think of it as a great big feedback mechanism.

It is constantly seeking information through our senses on things like: gravity, position, resistance, stability, sound, smell, sight, temperature, feel, etc., and relaying this to the brain in order for the brain decide what it wants to do next.
 
 
Think of Your Nervous System Like a Submarine
 
Submarines are known for operating on sonar - essentially, making a sound, waiting for the sound wave to bounce off something and return back to the sender. The submarine then could make a decision on whether or not it wanted to go in this direction or that. This is often called pinging.

Pinging is what your nervous system is doing all day long, searching out information from the periphery, relaying it to the brain, deciding what, if anything, to do about what it has found out and then taking action.

Going up a flight of stairs? Your eyes gauge the height of the stairs, your foot tells you if the surface is smooth like wood or has resistance like carpet, your heart rate and blood pressure increase (via messages from the nervous system) as you ascend and relay information to the brain in order to make a decision if you need to stop and rest halfway up or not.

Most of this happens automatically without you thinking about it... until it doesn't! Then, you have a problem - you might slip, stumble and fall, or catch yourself.

The interesting thing is that failures in the feedback mechanism happen at both ends of the age spectrum - a 2-year old learning to negotiate the stairs has some of the same issues as an 82-year old might - and for the same reason: The Nervous System is Not Completely Plugged In!

Often times, our physical "Pinging and Processing" can parallel our cognitive (ability to think and reason) "Pinging and Processing." In other words, our brains can slow to match our bodies!

This presents some very interesting possibilities. For instance, if you train the body, will the brain follow suit?
 
 
Train the Body, Train the Brain!
 
An interesting study published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) in 2004 looked at over 18,000 women between the ages of 70-81 and their activity levels, specifically walking. The study found that, not only was there a 20% difference in cognitive function (brain activation), but that their cognitive function was related, in part, on a dose basis: the more active they were, the better off they were!

This is only one of many articles you can find on physical activity and the role it plays in keeping the brain healthy. Really, keeping the brain healthy is a reciprocal action, just like our sonar example from the submarine. The more information you can process, the more likely you are to get up and process it; rinse and repeat!

Another article published in JAMA in 2008 studied elderly individuals with memory issues but had not met the criteria for Alzheimer's. 138 people completed this study that split the group into two: half did what was considered an "educational and usual care program" and the other half did a "24 week at-home physical activity program." The "educational and usual care program" showed deterioration over the study time - they actually lost ground. In contrast, the "at-home physical activity group" not only didn't lose ground, but they showed improvement!

Components of accessing the nervous system for frailty include:
  • Gait: how well and how much you can walk
  • Balance: a measure of strength and coordination
  • Strength: a measure of how well you recruit your muscles to do a task; this can be a quantity and quality issue
Doesn't that sound a lot like exercise? It sure does to me! Once again, we find ourselves back at the basic premise that we were born to move and, when we stop moving, we stop living (maybe not all at once, but progressively, in both body and mind)!

Training movement has a lot of components, but at the heart of it is this concept:

GET UP AND DO SOMETHING... ANYTHING!
 
A good place to start would be our blog series on getting out of a chair. It has some simple step-by-step exercises for strengthening your glutes, the biggest muscles in your body.
 
Whew! Well, I hope you have gotten something out of our series on Frailty. Next week, we will wrap it up and pull everything together. The last portion of the theory on Frailty is called Integrative, I think you will like it!

Until then,
Get Up and Do Something!

Doug Williams, D.C.
Care Chiropractic
Lafayette, Indiana

PS: Don't forget to visit our new blog page at Doug Williams, DC - there is lots of great stuff to explore!